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Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Cape Cod, MA
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Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

(Restaurant review will be Part Two)

I first want to say THANK YOU to all of those who helped us plan a spectacular trip –POTCAKE IN PARTICULAR! This forum was such a valuable resource and when we touched down in Provo I could not wait to experience all that I had read about. I arrived with a binder filled with information and copies of Trip Advisor posts. I was ready to see it all! And I was NOT disappointed!

There were 6 of us (3 couples) traveling together (as we have done the last several years). We all have been to several “tropical” places but this was our first trip to Provo. We ALL agreed that Provo is now at the top of our lists of favorite places.

Here are some stats: 2 couples from Cape Cod, MA and one from Bethel, CT. We flew American Airlines in and out of JFK, non-stop flight (tickets purchased in Sept. 05 for $450 each). We stayed for 9 nights (two at the Sibonne and 7 at a villa in the Turtle Tail area).

Here are some of our observations:

American Airlines was great – no hassles. We arrived on time each way. They also showed a movie on each flight.

Hertz Rental

Cars are not inexpensive to rent but having two was a must for us because we needed flexibility to be able to do what we wanted each day. We paid $850 for Suzuki Vitara and $855 for a Jeep Wrangler for 10 days (these prices include tax, 1 additional driver on each vehicle, and a 1/2 tank of gas). (Yikes!) The cars were not “old” (maybe two years?) but they were pretty beat-up (having driven on the Provo Roads for 10 days I see why). Both cars had 4WD. The Jeep was a soft-top with no “sides.” If you want “windows” so you can secure your Jeep, make sure you specify a hard-top when making your reservation. The soft-top was fine for our touring purposes but would not have been so great if it was the only vehicle we had rented or if it rained.

The Hertz people were not very friendly when we picked up the cars and I had to dispute the first “estimate of charges” they gave me because it did not reflect a Hertz discount I was supposed to have received through an American Airlines/Hertz promotion. Fortunately I had the appropriate paperwork from the hertz.com web site (where I made my reservation) and the Provo Hertz office redid the estimate. Make sure you bring copies of all confirmations with you, just in case. I would not have gotten the discount if I did not have that with me (saved 10% I think).

When we dropped off the cars, the staff was friendlier and the check-out process was fairly quick and easy.

Sibonne 3/23 – 3/24

This hotel was exactly as described in previous posts – small and intimate setting, unpretentious, with all of the beauty Grace Bay has to offer. No frills, but the price was right ($175 a night)! This hotel was clean and quiet. We were very surprised to learn that they were full because it did not seem overly crowded at any point (and I was able to get chairs under a tiki hut on the beach at 9am one morning). Towels were very thin (as others have stated) and hard to get (they ran out twice while we were there).

I don’t think I would have stayed here for an entire week but for two nights and to help us extend our vacation, it was perfect.

The only negative I would note is that the checkout for one of the couples was a bit of a hassle. They were using a Visa Gift card (they had confirmed with Visa that the card was active and could be used in Provo prior to departure) but the front desk clerk was not able to process the transaction. When my sister asked if she could call the number on the card to see what the problem was, the front desk clerk rudely snapped “no” because the call would cost money. She ended up having to pay with a credit card, which was not a big deal. The attitude of the clerk was more troublesome than anything. The card DID work at the Palms a few days later so we have attributed the problem at Sibonne to be a problem with how the clerk was completing the transaction. Their unwillingness to help resolve the issue left a bad taste in our mouths.

The rest of the staff was very friendly and polite. The "bellhop"/gardener/handyman person was extremely nice.

The Palms

We wanted to get massages one day while we were on Provo and we narrowed it down to Grace Point’s Thalasso Spa and The Palms Spa (both offering pre-natal massages for my pregnant sister). On Monday we drove to The Palms to tour the spa and grounds and determine if it would be worth the considerable cost. We thought the spa and grounds were beautiful and decided it would be a true experience to have massages here, so we made reservations for the following day (surprisingly they had many appointments available). I would have to say the entire experience was worth the money. The setting was tranquil and unique - as soon as you step into the reflection pool area you feel a sense of calm. The massages are done in individual stone cabanas with light flowing curtains and typical relaxing music. The massage therapists (and the entire staff, for that matter) were professional and pleasant. My sister did not think her “New Beginnings” massage was exactly as it had been described in the brochure (there was no “flotation bed”) but she enjoyed it just the same. I had the Mediterranean Sea Massage and it was great. Our friend had a Fiducae (sp?) massage and said it was one of the best she has ever had (a variety of massage techniques and a facial all in one). All three of us left feeling relaxed and glowing and we all agreed our skin was soft and radiant from the lotion they put on us.

We also had lunch at The Palms “Plunge” Restaurant (pool side) and it was one of the BEST meals we had the whole week. Hard to believe lobster salad, a turkey club and fries could be so outstanding but they really were. Prices were a little high - (bill was $90 incl. tax and tip) - but WELL WORTH IT. We kept wanting to go back for another lunch but never did. But we talked about it all week! The service was also the best we had all week.

One note – we were there on a slightly cloudy day and the pool area was jam-packed – not a chair to spare and we saw lots of people circling to try to find a seat. For the prices people pay to stay at this resort, I would have thought there would be enough chairs!

Pulse Gym (Saltmills Plaza)

My husband worked out at this gym and they had free weights, Nautilus equipment, and several cardio machines. It was $15 for a day pass. The people were very friendly and very helpful (especially with island tourism info).

Fishing

Our three guys’ main objective for our vacation was to catch fish! They came armed with spinning rods, reels, lures, etc. They went out almost every day (usually at 6am and were gone until the afternoon). The bone-fish, as expected, proved to be elusive and they hooked a few but not nearly as many as they would have liked! Flamingo Lake and the South Shore waters were the best spots they tried. They also caught yellow snapper, barracuda, and pompano from shore (at the inlet entrances). They also tried to catch lobster (before 4/1) and these were even more difficult than the bone-fish. Our dinner plan for grilled lobster one night was not possible with the one little thing they caught!

IGA

We went to the IGA on Saturday to buy our groceries for our stay in the villa. We planned to eat our breakfasts and most of our lunches at the house and then eat dinners out. We spent $240 that first day and got most of the essential items we thought we would need (stuff for our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, drinks, etc.). Prices were about what we had expected (some things were the same as U.S. prices but other things, like dairy and OJ, were considerably more). We thought the best comparison would be U.S. grocery stores without the sales (e.g. deli ham is about $8.99 lb near us unless it is on sale). They had run out of some things we had wanted (oddly, regular green olives were not available the entire time we were there). Suggest bringing items that you HAVE to have, just in case.

I had two complaints about the store: (1) the bathroom was one of the most disgusting bathrooms I have ever set foot in (not what you want in a grocery store!), (2) the deli department staff was downright rude (acted like they were doing me a favor by even being there) and they made errors with my order (you place your order, they write it down, and then you go back to pick it up). When I pointed out that I did not get the ham I had ordered and the price for one of the cheeses was wrong, they seemed extremely aggravated that I wanted them to give me the correct items/price. I was NOT a fan of their deli ham. The turkey was ok. I should note that I am VERY picky about my deli meat and only buy one particular brand here in the US (BH) so, if you are like me, consider other alternatives for lunch. For what it is worth, our guys thought the meat was just fine. JUST CHECK YOUR ORDER when they hand it to you.

We ended up making a few more trips back to the store (bought grill stuff for dinner one night and then had to buy other items like paper towels, pina colada mix, etc.) and I think we calculated our total grocery expense was about $140/couple for the week (this includes our alcohol purchases). We ate all breakfasts, one dinner, and all except for two lunches at the house).

Malcolm’s Beach, The Hole

The boys took the drive (about 35 min) from our house out to the NW Point and Malcolm’s Beach. They said it was nice but liked other parts of the island better.

Two members of our group went to “The Hole” and reported back that it was just that – a hole. Glad I did not waste my time. Having been to the caves of Virgin Gorda, I think I would have been unimpressed.

Potcake Rescue

On our second to last day, Friday, my husband and I were touring the Chaulk Sound area and all of a sudden he slammed on the breaks and said, “I think that was a puppy” and then slammed the car into reverse. Sure enough, he had seen a teeny tiny puppy along the side of the sandy road. We looked around the area and did not see any others, nor did we see “mama dog,” so we scooped the little guy up and took him to our villa to figure out who to call and/or where to bring him. After making a call, some VERY KIND people assisted us with this “rescue.” They literally dropped everything to help us. My husband and I are insane animal lovers and while it broke our heart to know this little guy was all alone on the side of the road (how, why, we did not know at the time), we were happy that we found him. We were warned that he might have a bit of a struggle since he was without his mom at such a young age (approx 10 days old) but the kind volunteers assured us everything that could be done for him would be.

We later leaned that two women (coincidentally, also from Massachusetts) had found a box with 6 other puppies in the area not too far from where we found our little guy. I will spare readers from my furious ranting about people who are cruel to animals and instead I will devote a few minutes to the generous souls who stepped up to give all 7 of these pups a chance at a good life. People (like my husband) who are willing to stop a car because they “thought” they saw something (others might have kept driving), people like the vet who attended to all 7, and people like the volunteers giving HOURLY care to these little babies – they all restore my faith in humanity. I have to trust that karma will take care of ALL involved. Sorry for the rant but this touched experience touched a nerve….

ON A VERY HAPPY NOTE: One of the couples traveling with us is going to adopt the little guy we found (praying he is well enough to travel in several weeks) and we have no doubt his life will be the best a dog could ever have!

Misc observations

We bought jugs of water for the house (more out of habit and the fact that we drink filtered water at our homes) but we drank tap water at the restaurants.

We think our restaurant bills (see Trip Report Two for reviews and prices) were less than other people because we had most of our cocktails at the villa and only ordered one, if any, at the restaurants. The restaurant drink prices are pretty high ($9 in some cases) and that can quickly mean the difference between a reasonable bill and an expensive one.

It was very windy (uncharacteristically so from what we heard) and chilly at night. We needed a sweater or wrap each night and sometimes wished we had more.

Smoking

Smoking is permitted in restaurants and I don’t think smoking or non-smoking seating is designated. Coming from a state where you cannot smoke in any restaurants, bars, etc., this was bothersome to us at times, especially my sister who is almost 6 months pregnant. I would not say this was a routinely pervasive problem, just something we are not used to and definitely noticed. Just be warned if you hate cigarette smoke as much as we do! Stick to the open air places…

Overall, this is probably the best vacation we have taken so far. We REALLY liked Provo and found it to have almost everything we wanted (just needed a few more stores for shopping!). Our friends golfed, the guys fished, and my sister and I were beach bums. I read 4 books! It is a very relaxing place and the majority of people we met were friendly and helpful. I liked that I felt safe enough to go for a run in the mornings and that no one harassed us to “braid our hair” on the beaches. The food was some of the best we have had during any trip (see Trip Report Two for more info). I thought it was uncrowded (despite the fact that it was considered peak season) and we had no difficulty getting around anywhere.

We can’t wait to plan our return!

Happy Travels,

SierraBelle

new york
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1. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

SierraBelle, What a wonderful trip report. I am sure that liitle pups new name will be Miracle. Your husband must have some eyesight to notice a 10 day old pup, they are barely the size of your hand at that age. Hopefully they found another mom to care for the pups. Thats a hard job even for a dog, hand feeding a litter is a round the clock job.

Sounds like you had a wonderful trip. Did you do any snorkeling? Thanks for posting looking foward to part 2..

Durham, North...
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2. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

What a great trip report! Of course the thing that really stands out is your kind rescue of a helpless puppy -it's the kind of thing my family has done since I was a toddler and strays have always found a home with us. I'm so glad the little guy is being adopted by one of your group. What a precious sweet ending to what could have been a very sad story! Please post and let us know what his name is, when the time comes!

Loved the detail of your report thus far, and looking forward to reading part two!

Turks and Caicos...
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3. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Hey!!! I have been looking forward to reading this report.

:-)

Fabulous, such great detail.

I am so glad that you had such a great time here and really relaxed but also managed to fit a lot in too!

Can't wait for part two!

P.S I hear that "your" pup and his bothers and sisters are coming along well.

They were all being bottle fed, but are also now taking in some baby food too.

Thank you so much for taking the time to save a life. Bless you.

Thank you also for your wonderful donation of supplies for the Potcake and kitten foster homes. These are very much needed.

:-)

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Excellent report again!

"the hole" is nothing like Virgin Gorda, it is just a hole.

What other islands have you been too, and do you mind comparing?

Sorry it was windy for you. It was windy for me off and on in January, and it was the first time there where it lasted so long. Most of the time when I'm there, water is calm like a swimming pool, and just enough breeze to not get hot.

Next time, especially if it's windy, you can check out Sapadilla Bay. It's always calm there! Great place for a picnic lunch.

And don't forget Coyoba's!

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Wonderful trip report. A very heartwarming story of the pup's rescue. Please thank your husband for all the animal lovers here. May all the pups find wonderful, loving homes.

Cape Cod, MA
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6. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Hi Snorkling,

Yes, our "boys" did some snorkeling while we were on the Grace Bay side of Provo. They walked from the Sibonne down to the Coral Gardens and saw a family of turtles, two large groupers, and several other fish. They were too busy trying to catch the fish when we went to the other side!

And with regards to the pup - God willing he makes it here, I believe his name will be "Mulligan." Our friends are golfers (for those who are not, this is a golf term that means "do over") and they liked the fact that it is a golf term and they liked the irony of the "do over," b/c hopefully this little guy is getting another chance at an awesome life!

Hi Blamona,

Happy to share the other places we have been: In terms of Caribbean locations, my husband and I have been to Aruba, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (twice), Playa del Carmen in Mexico, and St. Croix. My sister and her husband have been to Aruba and Peter Island and then Mexico and St. Croix w/ us. I believe our friends have been to Jamaica and Antigua and then the D.R., Mexico and St. Croix w/us, too. (Far too many US vacation destinations to list).

We were in Aruba 12 years ago and we liked it but it was also our first "grown-up trip and we had little else to compare it to. I remember we ate well (but we were poor kids just out of college and what did we really know?) It was by far our most ACTIVE vacation (we did a tour or excursion almost every day) and I do not think I sat in a beach chair for more than a day! It was a FUN trip and would recommend Aruba for people who want to do a lot! My sister and brother-in-law did not like Aruba when they were there 5 years ago but I also thinkt hey went at a very busy time (Christmas/New Year's vacation).

We went to Tortola and Virgin Gorda 8 years ago (our honeymoon) and they were beautiful. I understand Tortola has changed a lot over the years but when we were there we were the ONLY people on the beaches! The people were very friendly, we felt safe, and we found lots to do. We REALLY liked it. But we were poor newlyweds so we did not eat as well as we did in Provo. My sister and brother-in-law went to Tortola 4 years ago as part of a day trip while they stayed on Peter Island and they were not impressed with Tortola (thought it was dirty and did not feel safe). But, my sister is a bit hard to please which is why her love of Provo is even mroe impressive! They LOVED LOVED Peter Island (their honeymoon) and RAVE about the resort, the beach, the food, the service.

We liked Punta Cana the first time we were there - all-inclusive resort, STUNNING long stretches of beach, awesome pool area, GREAT service, but the second time we went (back to the same resort), we felt the service at the resort had slipped a bit. After traveling more and more, I also prefer going to places where you can leave the resort and not worry about safety. I understand one must always be AWARE and crime is everywhere, but I am lucky to live in a place where I don't have to hug my handbag tightly and I don't walk around looking over my shoulder. I like to vacation the same way. The site of ARMED men with machine guns patrolling the beach in the wee morning hours is more disturbing than it is comforting. I felt safe at every moment while in Provo (even driving around with my husband in the soft-top Jeep, I never thought we were at risk and neither did he. He is in law-enforcement and has a sixth sense about things.

We had a great time in Playa (8 of us went) and we stayed at the Riu Palace, an all-inclusive. It was a VERY NICE hotel. I remember it being very hot, almost too much some days. We did an excurison one day and we also had a little "town" we could go to for shopping and some nightlife. It was a well-balanced trip (enough activity, good food by all-inclusive standards, beautiful resort, attentive staff).

The 6 of us went to St. Croix last year and did the villa-thing. We enjoyed the trip so much that we had actually planned to go back this year before we made a last minute choice to "try" Provo (glad we did). St. Croix still ranks high on my list. I have heard that some people have had bad experiences but everything about our trip was perfect. We loved the beach near our house, we did a fantastic full day snorkeling excursion, our friends golfed, we had spa services at a very nice resort, and we ate very well. The food is definitely not as "high-end" in STX as it is in provo, but neither are the prices! It was a more casual trip and some nights you just want a burger and fries with a pina colada at a beachside "hut." We spent most of the trip in flip flops and shorts. We did not like the distance we had to travel to get to the other side of the island (we stayed in the middle of the island and many things we wanted to do were in Christiansted) and it often took us 40 minutes to get somewhere (talk about BAD roads - paved but VERY WINDY and hilly). There were cute shopping areas in STX and I do like to be able to buy souvenirs and things so I wish Provo had a wider selection of stores. I felt safe (despite what we had heard before we left) but not AS SAFE as I did in Provo. Us girls walked around by ourselves during the day but did not feel comfortable doing that at night. We also saw more unscrupulous characters than we did in Provo (no one set our radar off there).

Bottomline, I think vacations are such a personal choice - all based on $, desired activity level, types of food, safety requirements, etc. And much of the fun can be what you make of it with an open-mind. Some people warned us "There is nothing to do in Provo," to which replied "GOOD!" because we did not seek nightlife and constant entetainment. Traveling with our crew is often entertainment enough and we were content to go to nice dinners and then come home to play card games or read books (we joked it was like Walton's Mountain). We are lucky to travel with people we love so we enjoy things even more! And all we sought this year were beautiful beaches, places to fish, nice places to eat and a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.

We WILL be going back (and we WILL try Coyaba)!

Beverly...
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7. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

this is a great trip report...i'm glad you had such a wonderful trip...i'm now hoping i can get my husband to spring for a spa day...

it's amazing that you had a hand in a potcake rescue...bless you for that...we're leaving in 2 1/2 weeks and bringing home a puppy with us...maybe another one of the pups rescued that day will find massachesetts it's home...if they are old enough in a few weeks that is...it just seems appropriate that they get rescued by new englanders and then get to come live in new england...lol...we can't decide if we're more excited about the trip or the bringing home of a puppy...

East Brunswick, New...
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8. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Tell us about the villa. Go into detail if you can.

Jerzee Devil

Cape Cod, MA
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9. Re: Trip Report Part One (March 23-April 1) (Hertz, Sibonne...

Just Laura,

Bless YOU for taking in a potcake! I wish we could adopt the one we found but we just added a third dog to our household in February (a rescue, too) and the adjustment was a bit stressful for the other animals (my 9 and 10 year old cats are FED UP)!

For now we are just happy we will be able to see the pup we found on a regular basis since he will be with our firends (HOPEFULLY).

Best of luck to you when you select the newest addition to your family - it IS so exciting!